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Stour Estuary - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Duke Leto
Sunset over Mistley on the River Stour

England, Essex


On the south shore of the Stour Estuary in Essex, this reserve is unusual in containing both deciduous woodland and intertidal mudflats. The 130 acres of woodland consists of mainly Oak and coppiced Sweet Chestnut. The mudflats are fringed by small areas of saltmarsh, estuarine reeds and scrubby fields.


Notable Species

A good selection of birds can be seen on this reserve due to the two diverging habitat types. Stour Wood has breeding woodpeckers, Nightingale, Garden Warbler and Blackcap as well as many other woodland species. Both whitethroats occur in the scrub and Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler in the reedbeds.

The estuary is important in autumn and winter for waterfowl including Dark-bellied Brent Goose and Eurasian Wigeon, Shelduck, Northern Pintail and Common Teal and waders such as Grey Plover, Common Redshank, Eurasian Curlew and important numbers of Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin.


Birds you can see here include:

Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Common Goldeneye, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Red Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Ruddy Turnstone, Stock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Common Wren, Dunnock, Eurasian Robin, Common Nightingale, Eurasian Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Sedge Warbler, Common Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Common Treecreeper, Common Jay, Common Magpie, Carrion Crow, Common Starling, Chaffinch, European Greenfinch

Other Wildlife

Mammals found on the reserve include Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, Badger Meles meles, Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis and Hazel Dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius and the area is noted as a good site for butterflies with an important colony of White Admiral Limenitis camilla.

Moths are varied and include such scarce species as Pebble Prominent Eligmodonta ziczac, Chocolate-tip Clostera curtula and Peach Blossom Thyatira batis.

Plants include typical plants of long-established and relatively undisturbed woodlands such as Wild Service Tree Sorbus torminalis, Wood Sorrel Oxalis acetosella, Yellow Archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon and Butcher's Broom Ruscus aculeatus. The spectacular showing of Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa in late March-early April attracts many visitors to this woodland.

Site Information

Areas of Interest

The Bramble Creek and Deep Fleet hides overlook the saltmarshes and a couple of hours either side of high tide is the best time to visit to see the maximum variety and number of birds are present.

Over 10,000 birds are present at times with some species occurring in internationally important numbers.

The Copperas Bay hide is best visited at low tide.

Access and Facilities

To the east of Colchester in south Essex, the reserve is 2km east of the village of Wrabness and reached via the B1352 Manningtree to Ramsey road.

The reserve is entered through Stour Wood which has marked trails to the edge of the estuary where there are hides.

Grid reference: TM190310

Contact Details

Tel: 01473 328006 (RSPB)

External Links

Content and images originally posted by Steve